Special COVID-19 Video Series: An Update from VCT in India

In the second video in our series of interviews with Holt program directors around the world,  we have a message from Hepzibah Sharmila, the executive director of Vathsalya Charitable Trust — Holt’s partner organization in Bengaluru, India.

In this video update, Sharmila shares about the effects of the pandemic for children and families living in poverty, and how — with the support of Holt sponsors — she and her team have mobilized to meet their most critical needs.

We hope that you enjoy this update from the field. In this time that Holt staff can’t travel to gather information about the kids in Holt’s programs, we hope this video series encourages you with examples of all the good work you are helping to support around the world.

Click here to watch our special COVID-19 video update from Uganda! And stay tuned for more video interviews from the field!

Back to School, Around the World

All around the world this year, school will look different due to COVID-19. But whether children are physically in a classroom, or learning from home, your gifts will help children continue to learn and stay safe from early marriage and forced labor during this time of global crisis. Here are the current back-to-school plans in each of the countries where Holt kids live!

Whether a child is the daughter of migrant workers in India, lives near the Red Stone garbage dump in Mongolia, or has Down syndrome in Vietnam, education is vital to helping every child overcome poverty and reach their potential in life. It is also a cornerstone to the help that you provide through Holt.

But what about this year? What does back-to-school look like during a global pandemic?

 

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Confronting the COVID-19 Pandemic Through Adaptability, Partnership and Innovation

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented challenges before the children, families and communities Holt serves. As already vulnerable populations struggle to adapt to the economic and social disruption of this global crisis, critical work in family strengthening, orphan care, and domestic and international adoption has taken on new dimensions.

While not typically an “emergency response” organization, dedicated Holt staff in deep collaboration with long-time partners have reacted with agility and innovation to meet emergency needs as well as continue delivering holistic services and care for orphaned children and vulnerable families across our country programs. The following are brief illustrations of how Holt teams have adapted to meet shifting needs in response to COVID -19.

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Keeping Kids Connected During COVID-19

In Delhi, children felt isolation, bored and disconnected from their Holt-supported community during their city-wide lockdown. But then, they started a vlog to connect with each other — and it’s been more meaningful than they ever expected.

“Hello Friends! I’m Deepa,” says a young girl, giving a slight wave to the camera. Deepa wears her black hair in two low French braids fastened with purple scrunchies, and has a thin black choker necklace around her neck.

A friendly greeting and introduction like this is how 11-year-old Deepa starts all of her videos on the KARE Kids vlog. In her first video, she shares about herself, her life and her family. In a later video, titled “Arts and Crafts with Deepa,” she shows how to make a pop-up greeting card. In the one before that she shares yoga tips, and in another she tells everyone which superpower she would choose to have and why.

In her latest video on the vlog. Deepa shares about which superpower she would want to have.

Deepa is one of 28 children who contribute to the KARE Kids Vlog Channel. Although, with its classroom-like feel, it’s really more like a community of friends than just a YouTube channel. Each of these children lives in Delhi, India and are part of the Kinship Care and Relational Engagement or “KARE” program through Shishu Sangopan Griha (SSG), Holt’s partner organization in the city.

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Update: How You’re Helping Children & Families During COVID-19

From giving emergency food, water and medical supplies to supporting tele-counseling and more, you are doing amazing things to help children and families during this global health crisis. Here are the latest updates from the field.

Over the past few months, we’ve received lots of questions from you about how the coronavirus crisis is affecting children and families you help around the world.

In many ways, their lives may look similar to yours right now: children are home from school, parents are out of work or trying to find ways to work from home, they’re staying home — or wearing a mask when they have to go out in public. Parents and Holt staff in the field are teaching and reminding kids to “Wash your hands!” and “Don’t touch your face!”

But for children without families and families in poverty — the children and families you support — the effects of this coronavirus pandemic could have been devastating.

We’ve shared a lot about these needs, and you can read more about them here.

While the crisis is still ongoing and children and families will continue to face needs in the weeks and months to come, right now we want to share some good news…

Because of you, to date, our staff tell us that not one child in our programs has gotten sick from the coronavirus. Children who were hungry now have food. Families in crisis are getting the help they need! 

Here are just some of the amazing updates on children and families you’ve helped since this crisis began:

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Favorite 15 Stories of 2019

In 2019, we shared some amazing and inspiring stories from and about adoptees, adoptive families, sponsors, donors, and children and families in our programs around the world. It has been an incredible year at Holt — a year that you shared with us as you read, commented on and reposted our updates, stories and videos throughout the year.

Early last year, we merged with the adoption and child welfare agency WACAP — combining our resources and knowledge to help even more orphaned and vulnerable children both in the U.S. and in countries around the world. Throughout the year, Holt’s extraordinary donors made it possible to reach more than 280,000 children and families in 14 countries with everything from school supplies and bicycles to lifesaving food and critically needed surgery. Continue reading “Favorite 15 Stories of 2019”

Indian Adoptees Reunited After 30 Years

Thrity-one years ago today, Christina, Rekha and Deborah, along with two other Indian Adoptees, arrived in the United States.  They were escorted from India by the Poindexter family who took on an adventure of a lifetime. Since that day in December 1988, 30 years ago would go by before the women would be able to reunite in person with each other and then with the family that forever changed their lives. As we sat down with these young women we learned so much about their resiliency, heart and determination to find pieces of their past in each other. They were together from the beginning and the connections that formed as babies in India has blossomed into a friendship that is remarkable and deep.

Happy Adoption Day Christina, Rekha and Deborah! Your story is so important and we are proud to be able to share it with the world.

Now There is Light

In her early teens, Devi thought she’d never be able to attend school. But then, Holt sponsors lifted her family out of the darkness.

When Devi imagined her life, it looked a lot like her mother’s. She would never learn to read or write. She would get married and have children at 15 or 16. She would work on the farm or do chores for a wealthy family. Life would be difficult. 

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Sisters, Reunited

Meet Rekha, Deborah and Christina — three Indian adoptees from different families with one very strong and powerful connection: their shared beginning.

Rekha, Deborah and Christina

If you see us in person or in a picture, we are three little Indians: petite, of Indian nationality, and a group of three. Our names are Deborah, Rekha and Christina. We are three different people with one very strong and powerful connection: our shared beginning. Together on December 11, 1988, we traveled on Pan Am Flight 067 as infants 20+ hours from Pune, Maharashtra, India, to New York City, New York, USA. There were five of us total, accompanied and cared for by our American travel chaperones, Barbara, her husband, Lee, and their 20-year-old son, Kip. What we share is not only a past, but since finding each other and then meeting again 30+ years later, a new beginning of friendship and sisterhood.

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